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Can objects get left behind in operating sites?

When you enter an operating room to have a procedure performed, you put your life in the hands of surgeons and other medical professionals. You may be going in to the operating room to have the procedure in hopes of coming out with an improved quality of life. Unfortunately, for many people, that is not always the case. Surgeons and surgical staff are humans and are prone to make mistakes. Yet, when made in the OR, these errors could affect peoples’ lives. 

One common surgical error that is made involves leaving instruments and other items behind inside patients’ operating sites. Once the procedure is complete and you are stitched up, there may be equipment that goes unaccounted for and you may leave with more than you bargained for. 

Retained surgical instruments happen every one in 5,500 surgeries. While this may not seem like a significant number, these incidents happen 11 times a day throughout the United States. Items left behind in a patient’s surgical site can cause long-term damage and even death. The most common retained items are surgical sponges, which can easily become hidden in their environment once saturated with blood and other body fluids. In one case, a woman developed a severe infection after having kidney surgery. Months after the procedure was performed, the doctor found a surgical sponge that was left behind and had adhered to the outside of her organs. 

Despite measures to account for surgical equipment before, during and after the procedure are performed, these medical accidents still happen. It is critical to follow up with your surgeon and report any abnormalities as soon as possible. 

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice. 

 

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